Speed Queen depends largely on PR for reintroduction to public

RIPON, WI: Alliance Laundry Systems is reintroducing the Speed Queen line of washers and dryers to consumers with a PR campaign that will emphasize media relations and cause-related marketing.

RIPON, WI: Alliance Laundry Systems is reintroducing the Speed Queen line of washers and dryers to consumers with a PR campaign that will emphasize media relations and cause-related marketing.

The effort is being handled in-house at Alliance, said Jan Rupnick, PR specialist there. Rupnick joined the company at the end of March, its first full-time PR person in eight years.

The Speed Queen brand is more than 90 years old but in recent years has been sold only in commercial laundry markets. Raytheon owned the brand until 1999, when Alliance took it over and agreed in a noncompete clause not to reintroduce it to consumers until this year.

The relaunch "at this point is all PR," with no advertising being done, said Rupnick. The company is considering cause-related efforts for the brand but in the meantime, Rupnick is trying to place articles that deal with laundry tips, hoping to position Alliance as a laundry expert. Such efforts have proved successful in commercial markets, she noted. Speed Queen will be sold in local appliance stores, avoiding big-box retailers.

"We see ourselves as a niche player," Rupnick said. The brand wants to cultivate an upscale image.

"There is a lot of opportunity out there that I don't see other people taking advantage of," she added. One area in which Rupnick hopes to make Speed Queen an expert is new home design and the placement of laundry rooms in such homes.

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